Communities trying to write a neighbourhood plan need protection from developers, says a councillor after the Government was overruled allowing 180 homes to be built at Filands, Malmesbury.

Gleeson Developments recieved planning permission in error from a planning inspector for a 180-home development at Malmesbury and has now won the fight to keep it at London’s Court of Appeal.

A steering group of Malmesbury volunteers worked for six months to come up with a draft neighbourhood plan suggesting the locations of 330 new houses for the town.

It did not include land south of Filands, where Gleeson will now be able to build 180 houses.

Coun Simon Killane, who chairs Malmesbury's Neighbourhood Steering Group, said: “What we continue to do in Malmesbury is to show that a model of community-led planning can work.

“This was running in parallel with our neighbourhood planning process, so we ended up caught like rabbit in headlights trying to deal with the old system and the new.

“I and other neighbourhood steering group members have told the Government that we need proper transfer arrangements.

“You can’t just allow an email from an officer to supersede what a community has been doing for years and means something to thousands of people.

“This is about more than just Malmesbury and some houses, this about the culture of our country and the way the political system works and how communities are disenfranchised by powerful and mighty developers.”